On February 27, Sr. Carmel Earls, who resides in our Franciscan House in Lucan, Ireland, but ministers in Neilstown Parish, was honored for 30 years of outstanding service to the parish and people of Neilstown. The surprise celebration was organized by the parish staff and the pastor, Father Hugh Cavanaugh, amid great efforts to keep the event top secret. The celebration opened with a concelebrated Mass by Father Hugh and three former parish priests who have ministered with Sr. Carmel at different times. A choir enhanced the solemnity and festivity of the Mass, as did a beautiful rendition of “Ave Maria” by a former choir member who came especially for the occasion. Many parishioners were in attendance, as were Sr. Nora McCarthy and Sr. Kathleen Kelly.
Father Hugh composed and recited a poem highlighting Carmel’s many contributions to the life of the parish of Neilstown. This tribute was followed by video messages from members of Sr. Carmel’s family and friends and from Fr. Damien Farron, who once served in the parish but is now chaplain for the Irish peacekeeping mission in Golan Heights. At the close of the Mass, an elderly parishioner, Larry Moore, who receives lots of TLC from Sr. Carmel, presented her with a chalice. She was delighted with this precious gift as she had mentioned several times that the parish badly needed a new chalice. While the parishioners lined up to offer their congratulations and thanks to Sr. Carmel, all were invited to coffee, tea, and pastries at the rear of the church.